Although it takes a team effort to win, some of the basketball rosters in this area have those punch players who lead them throughout the season.
Such is the case with both the boys and girls teams from St. Paul and Bristol residents Jade Udoh and Noah Waters, this week’s Athlete of the Week picks.
Udoh, the daughter of Bevin Shappy and Unwana Udoh, gets the AOW nod for the third year in a row. As a sophomore, Udoh recorded 12 points a game with just under eight rebounds and last year she earned All-Press, All-NVL and NVL tournament MVP honors.
Coming into this week, St. Paul is 2-2 with Udoh, a tri-captain, leading the team in rebounds and second in scoring with a 13.75 average. Her best outing of the young campaign was when she had game highs in three categories - 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine steals - in a 77-46 win over host Crosby two days before Christmas.
“Jade has done a tremendous job of working on her basketball skills to become a complete player,” St. Paul girls coach Joe Mone said. “She’s capable of helping her team in numerous ways. I’m most proud of the leader she’s become this year. She is there for her teammates and always communicates with the coaches to make sure everyone is on the same page. It’s been a privilege to coach Jade the last four years and I wish I had four more because she’s such a terrific person.”
Coming off a 24-3 season in which the Falcons reached the semifinals of Class S play, Udoh and her teammates have been elevated to Class L status.
“I think we’re doing pretty decent, but we still have a long way to go to be where we were last year,” Udoh said. “The team’s goal is to make it to Mohegan (Sun for the state championship game) and we are in Class L so that makes it harder, but we like the challenge. We improve with every game we play. Our defense needs to improve, but we’re definitely getting better.”
Udoh started playing basketball with the travel team at the Bristol Boys and Girls Club. She also has Mone to thank for her basketball growth.
“He’s much pretty-much family to me,” Udoh said. “Pretty much my grandfather now. He’s known me since I was born and I’m thankful for having him in my life.
“Basketball has pretty-much shaped me who I am. It’s taught me self discipline and to work hard and also be part of a family. We are a tight knit group, we’re very close.”
Next year at this time, Udoh will be at ECSU playing basketball and studying computer science and cybersecurity.
Waters, the son of Heidi and Marcus Swain, is a repeat AOW pick after receiving the honor last season as a junior. Like Udoh, he earned all-conference and All-Press first team honors while finishing second in scoring for the 2018-2019 Falcons.
The Falcons were 1-1 coming into this week after a 66-50 win over Derby and 64-47 loss to Crosby. Waters scored a game-high 29 points and added nine rebounds against host Derby and was tied for a team-best eight points in the home loss to Crosby.
“Noah’s responsibilities have been enhanced this season,” St. Paul boys coach Steve Phelps said. “In addition to his performance as a player, he has been selected as one of this year’s captains and is adjusting to his role as leader and setting an example for the members of this year’s team. I trust Noah is up for this challenge.
“I believe in Noah, I have always believed in Noah. He is motivated to be the complete player we need him to be. I am committed to Noah Waters. He has earned that respect and together, we will continue to do our best to honor the tradition that is St. Paul Catholic basketball.”
Waters, in turn, believes in the team.
“Our goal for sure is to get to the state tournament,” Waters said. “We’re definitely looking at our goal to make it all the way. I think we have everything, the staff, the players. I think that it’s about our mentality.”
Waters started competitive basketball at the Bristol Boys and Girls Club and also played with CT Select since the sixth grade. He added that his goal this season is to lead St. Paul to a state title.
As for the future, “I plan to play in college next year,” Waters said. “I’ve been in contact with a few schools. I want to study law and business.”
Contact Bob Montgomery at or by calling 860-973-1808.